TABLE OF CONTENTS
End of May, beginning of June... Computex, looking forward to the new products from NVIDIA... As well as to summer and all sorts of pleasures it's associated with.
It's all over now, the summer galloped by, merrily waving a hand, and ran away to get ready for the new offensive in the Southern Hemisphere. And we have a long perspective of rains, slosh, snowfalls, rains again, ice, and other joys of winter (some people will really enjoy it, others won't). To make up for it, the lull in 3D accelerators is coming to an end. New announcements from ATI are round the corner (we shall not touch upon them yet), the shelves are filled with products based on NVIDIA chips, manufactured in summer.
Yep, it's a paradox - all 7800GTX cards disappeared in Moscow, when this article was written. If it isn't a new crisis with deficit we had already witnessed a year ago with the 6800 Ultra? According to manufacturers, there is no deficit. Retailers just failed to estimate the demand correctly and imported insufficient goods by the beginning of the new sales season.
However, in summer we witnessed high demand for the GeForce 7800 GTX (relatively high, of course!), despite the lull in business activities and the desire of many potential buyers to go to the seaside instead of spending money on upgrades. At the beginning of September the demand jumped up.
And the demand for the cheaper product based on GeForce 7800 GT became fantastic. Many price lists still mark these cards as "reserved" or "expected". It happens even though the price for 7800 GT in Moscow is much higher than recommended by NVIDIA.
It's $449. Multiple tests in different laboratories revealed that the 7800 GT is a very interesting and even beneficial product (of course, unless local retailers raise the prices too high). So we proceed with our reviews of production-line cards on this GPU. Today our lab got hold of a video card with increased frequencies, so its title includes Extreme suffix. I guess it will be very interesting to examine it. However, our previous 3Digest includes performance results of this very card, our readers may have already formed an impression of this product. So we are not going to carry out separate tests - there is no point in them, I'll just publish 3Digest results at the end of the article.
Besides the 7800 GT, we also got interested in another product from Leadtek. Many readers are sure to remember the attempt made by Gigabyte and ASUSTeK to launch a single card with two GPUs working in SLI mode. First of all, it had to do with GeForce 6600 GT - the easiest solution (128bit bus in a separate card based on this processor, 128 MB in a standard modification). Much later manufacturers tried to launch twin 6800 GT/Ultra cards on a single PCB.
Leadtek also launched a similar product based on two 6600GT cards on a single PCB. The advantage of this product is that it can operate with any motherboard supporting SLI (there are no manufacturer restrictions, unlike the product from Gigabyte). Besides, this card operates at higher frequencies than GeForce 6600GT. Whether the 6600GT SLI is really necessary, especially in the form of a single card, will be reviewed later.
So, while all 3D accelerator fans are waiting for ATI's move (the new R520/RV5xx line), we are going to review what we already have available on the market. Go on reviewing, to be more exact.
While the Leadtek product on the 7800 GT is crystal clear (it's a copy of the reference design, so there is nothing to add), the product based on 6600GT SLI is just unique. In this case, there is no reference design as such, so we can compare only products from different companies. Leadtek engineers obviously created their own design, quite convenient and even compact. Actually, it differs from the 3D1 only in its memory chips, not rotated 45°, but arranged in a usual way.
It must be noted that Leadtek WinFast Duo PX6600GT TDH Extreme 256MB allows not only outputting video in SLI mode to two monitors. If you don't need SLI, you can also output video to 4 monitors, using two additional connectors.
These are our heroes, work-horses, which pipelines work like gears animating 3D games. That is processors. The first one is GeForce 7800 GT, the second - 6600GT. However, designations are self explanatory.
Installation and Drivers
As is well known, Leadtek cards come shipped with a proprietary utility WinFox, which can overclock cards as well as monitor their status. It's interesting to note that out of the entire set of parameters, the 7800GT supports nothing except the core temperature. The utility shows the core architecture and... it makes absolutely the same mistake as RivaTuner beta - it shows that the memory type is SDR instead of DDR3. Something tells me that this is not a coincidence, Leadtek programmers obviously used RT.
And here is what WinFox shows about the 2x6600GT. I again draw your attention to the box label running that the core frequency is 550 MHz, while it's just 525 MHz.
Besides working directly with a video card, WinFox includes a module that shows the load of memory, video memory, and CPU, as well as information about drivers, monitor, etc.
Test results: performance comparison
We used the following test applications:
Performance ratings illustrate that the 7800GT from Leadtek is quite advantageous.
With its price about $500, it eclipses the previous 3D leader - X850XT
PE in the majority of tests. To say nothing of the fact that the 7800GT
possesses all the latest innovations in 3D technologies (DirectX 9.0c
at full swing).
Despite some drawbacks, this card at a similar price with the X800 XL (these cards are not available in Russia so far) demonstrates very good results. Of course, there are reasons to buy this accelerator only if you need outputting video to multiple monitors (with disabled SLI) or obtain good 3D performance (with enabled SLI). Otherwise, you'd better buy a 6800GT, which price is rapidly dropping.
Leadtek WinFast PX7800GT TDH myVIVO Extreme 256MB is an excellent product. This video card works off 100%, possessing everything necessary today for the most exacting 3D games and offering a good compromise between performance and price. This sample demonstrated excellent 2D quality (I'm still sure that Leadtek cards have been the best cards in this respect for a long time), the card operated brilliantly. I didn't analyze overclocking, as I was pressed for time. It must be added that the cooler can now be controlled via RivaTuner 15.7, so there are no problems with noise at all.
Leadtek WinFast Duo PX6600GT TDH Extreme 256MB is an interesting product. It most likely represents a proud display of Leadtek engineers - look what we can do. Practical use of this card is more unassuming: only if you need video output to four monitors plus good 3D performance in SLI mode. And you shouldn't forget that such cards need a motherboard supporting SLI, thus it will still have two PCI-E x16 slots. There is a reason to buy this Leadtek product (I mean this video card) only if its price is below the total price of two 6600GT Extreme cards (keep in mind the increased frequencies in this card). I repeat that the box label points out the core frequency of 550 MHz, while it's actually 525. 2D quality is OK, it's up to the mark.
You can find more detailed comparisons of various video cards in our 3Digest.
Theoretical materials and reviews of video cards, which concern functional properties of the GPU ATI RADEON X800 (R420)/X850 (R480)/X700 (RV410) and NVIDIA GeForce 6800 (NV40/45)/6600 (NV43)
Andrey Vorobiev (email@example.com)
October 27, 2005.
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